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Health (Amendment) Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed) and Remaining Stages (Continued)

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1004 No. 6
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly] There is none in Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands. Norway has it but only from high-risk areas and, critically, if a person is a resident or has a residence in Norway he or she does not have to go to the hotel but can go the residence. There is no hotel quarantine in Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland but in the UK, which is at the end of the list, the situation is similar to ours. It was mentioned earlier that the UK has more countries on its list than we do, which is true, but I believe our list will grow. As a rebuttal, if I may, to the allegations that this is somehow a pretence or a sham or minimalism, they are the facts. This system of hotel quarantine, as the evidence shows, will be, by a long way, the most restrictive and the most comprehensive in Europe, other than the UK, and we are largely in line with the UK. It is important that the Irish people understand that this is serious legislation which brings in serious measures relating to the curtailment of people's liberties and it does so in a robust way. It is a legally sound mechanism that gets to what many Deputies here are looking for, which is for more countries to be added to the list.

On the subject of the UK, I wish to acknowledge that to his credit, Deputy Cullinane has been very constructive, generally, during Covid debates. He does not always, nor should he, agree with Government policy but I acknowledge that he always has been very constructive. However, I question the contributions from Sinn Féin today because its Deputies have used very strong, accusatory and dramatic language about what we are doing here. It is the case that England and Scotland have hotel quarantine in place, as does Wales by proxy through England. Ireland, hopefully, will soon have it. The one jurisdiction on the two islands that does not have in place a system of hotel quarantine and is not planning to put in place such a system is Northern Ireland.

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane That is because there is a travel ban.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The only jurisdiction where Sinn Féin is in government is the only jurisdiction that is not looking at hotel quarantine. That is relevant to this debate. I reiterate that there has been very constructive dialogue on a lot of issues, which I accept, but on this issue it is hard not to conclude that Sinn Féin is speaking out of both sides of its mouth. They are demanding it here in Ireland, but they are not looking for it where they can implement it in Northern Ireland.

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane There is a travel ban, Minister.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As I said, that is relevant to this debate. I also could not find any media coverage where Sinn Féin vocally opposed and criticised the introduction in the UK, but it is doing so here. It is difficult not to conclude that there is politics being played here, which I do not think serves what we are all trying to do, which is to bring in a legally sound and robust mechanism.

There were questions around consultation with the Garda. The Garda Síochána was consulted. Several of the amendments which I have tabled were based on that consultation. I want to clarify that my understanding is there was no consultation with the representative groups, but the Garda Síochána was consulted.

Deputy Duncan Smith: Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith Under Standing Order 78, I propose, "That the question be now put."

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I have given the Minister an opportunity to respond. Deputy Duncan Smith has called for the closure of the debate and for the vote to be formally put. The Minister still has not indicated if he is accepting amendment No. 1. I presume he is not accepting it.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly Do I conclude my responses now?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Yes. I am presuming from the Minister's reply that he is not accepting amendment No. 1.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly No.


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